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Divergent views won't affect N-deal: Mukherjee
Ajay Kaul in Seoul | September 17, 2007 13:49 IST
Last Updated: September 17, 2007 14:42 IST
In the backdrop of the Left parties' opposition to growing Indo-US ties, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday suggested any "divergence" of views in the country would not hamper development of bilateral relations and defended the nuclear deal as a "landmark" agreement.
On a three-day visit to Seoul since Sunday, he made it clear that the increasing cooperation between India and the US was not aimed at containing China.
"I do not visualise any constraint in bilateral relations (between India and the US). It is expanding very fast," Mukherjee said in Seoul while interacting with diplomats and intellectuals after delivering a lecture on 'India's Look East Policy'.
He was asked whether he apprehended constraints in growth of Indo-US relations because of divergence of views.
The minister said India has had good relations with the US since the beginning, but "now it has assumed new dimension, new angularities."
Referring to the civil nuclear cooperation "we are trying to have", he said, "If it finally materialises, it will be a symbol of landmark agreement of bilateral cooperation in multilateral framework."
Elaborating, he said though the Indo-US nuclear agreement is a bilateral pact, "its implications will be involvement of large number of Nuclear Suppliers Group countries and India-specific agreement with International Atomic Energy Agency."
"I feel in any individual relationship, there may be certain divergence of views in certain areas, in certain aspects in a particular context, but it is not necessary that these will stand in the way of overall expansion of relationship with any country," Mukherjee said.
The comments assume significance as the government's Left allies are opposing growing engagement with the US, particularly in the context of civil nuclear deal.
Mukherjee said the Indo-US civil nuclear agreement will have international ramifications as the 45-nation NSG would have to accept it to enable flow of nuclear fuel and technology to India.
He said the civil nuclear deal will be implemented in consonance with the India-specific Safeguards Agreement with IAEA.
"Our policy is every country should have the right to pursue civil nuclear programme for peaceful purposes, not for military purposes. So if any country has any international obligation under any international treaty, the civil nuclear cooperation should be in consonance with that treaty," he said.
Asked about apprehensions that the US was strengthening its relations with India to "counter-balance" China, Mukherjee said, "We do not believe in containing any country. Therefore, there is no question of the cooperation between India and the US to act as some sort of containment of any country, including China."
The external affairs minister said India's relations with the US are independent of its ties with China.
Mukherjee said India's relations with China have been growing despite the "differences" over the boundary question.
"We have not been able to resolve the boundary issue so far, but that does not stand in the way of development of
Pointing out that India believes in peaceful co-existence and works for development and prosperity of the
Earlier, in his lecture at the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security, Mukherjee said India's "broad and multifaceted" engagement with China was growing, with trade and investment being the "great drivers of the new relationship."
Replying to the skeptics, Mukherjee said, "There is enough space and opportunity for both of us (India and China) to grow and develop and to bring benefit not only to us both but also for other partners in Asia."
Expressing confidence that the Sino-India Strategic and Cooperative partnership will "mature and steadily develop," he said the leaders of both the countries "recognise that co-existence and cooperation is the wise course of action and sensitivity to mutual aspirations is the underpinning for building confidence and trust."
He noted that the bilateral trade between India and China was of the tune of a few thousand dollars when economic relations started between the two countries in early 1990s.
At present, the bilateral trade volume is $30 million and is targeted to be raised to $40 million by 2010.
"I have no doubt that we will surpass that target well in time," he added.